The Times are Changing

Times change and things change.  Change is hard.  After being denied the opportunity to take classes in person (rather than just online) at my current college, I have decided to take in-person classes at another local university.  This is hard. Change is hard.

I worry about the new sounds and smells and distractions.  I worry about how I can sit and stay in class without having to get up and move about.  I want to be like other students.  That is all really.  I, however, have to focus not only on the course information but also on regulating myself and my body.  It’s hard when I have to do that.
I do have plenty of support and I am grateful, but in the end I realize that I have to step up to the expectations people have of me.  I share these expectations and want to be successful.
This is where I stand now and it seems to be where I always stand.  I am pulled between a desire to be more independent and the comfort of knowing another person is there to watch out for me when I need it.  I want the independence, but I also fear it. 
I fear how I will deal with sitting in a classroom with my sensory issues.  I fear that I will not set a good example for future persons like myself who might wish to attend this university in the future.
These things are what I am trying to deal with right now and are the things that make me worry.  Well, this and the fact that I am trying to be more independent. I think I have to find a happy medium between being completely independent and accepting help when I need it.   Being completely independent is a hard thing, but I have to remember that even while I think I am out there alone, I have a wonderful support team including my family, friends, therapists and teachers.

Saying and Hearing… Words are Interesting

I often repeat words to myself out loud.  These words are variable like “monopoly,” “swim,” and “airport.”  I was recently asked about this at a meeting.  Basically, while I do enjoy going to the airport and other things because of the sounds, I also like hearing the sounds of specific words when I say them out loud.

I have been asked the reason behind this and I will try to explain.  However, it is hard to do so in many ways.  I hear myself speak differently at different times.  I can hear tones in different words that sometimes are very interesting to me.  However, if I hear another person say the same word, there is no interest.

Some tones are melodic and others have much dissonance to them.  I may keep saying a sound or listening to a particular part of a song because it has a tone in it that I like to hear.  I do wonder if it is my body telling me I need to hear this sound to help adjust some sensory issue my body is working out or if it just because I like it at that particular moment.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that sometimes when I say words I get more excited and at other moments I get more relaxed.

So, take a minute and think about it?  Do some words just sound more interesting to you?  Do some sounds seem to “roll of the tongue” as the saying goes?  Think of how this might be magnified in someone with sensory differences.  I personally love the way some of the words sound and enjoy saying them.  It hurts no one and it calms me.

Back Into a Routine

“Getting back into a routine”  This is something I have heard a great deal lately.  Is there a greater shift in our lives than in the autumn when returning to school and work after the summer break?  I have a great deal of difficulty with change and  for a person like me each little difference is massive.  By now, most people are adjusted to the change, but for me it is still going on and it is still at its extreme.

Returning to school is exciting or anxiety producing for most people but for me it is a sensory barrage. Environments all change and each has new smells, lights, people and temperatures.  Trees are louder in the wind.  The heater smells very different from air conditioning.  People wear different fabrics.  The smallest change can be distracting or overwhelming.

I know that I will eventually settle in, but paper clips, staples, and everything else like that are all major players in the game for me at this time.  They take a predominant role because I would rather focus on those than on the anxiety of change.  I think that this is what happens every year – dealing with the anxiety of change.  Right now I have, just like many of my readers probably have, many changes going on.  I am starting new classes, new goals in therapy, changes in my routine and even changes in my living situation to a certain extent.  All of this can seem overwhelming to me at times and then, as I said before, I need to get used to new sounds, new smells and new ways of dealing with those things.

The summer was great, but busy.  Now it is time to get back into focus.

The Noise of the City

I was recently back in New York City presenting at NYU.  I really enjoy my trips up to NYC.  Greenwich Village is very exciting.  Compared to where I live, there is so much traffic and vehicles to look at.  Honestly, many people may find the crowds and traffic stressful.  For me, however, I find that it lessens my anxiety because I can focus my mind on something that really interests me – noises, cars, trucks and cabs.  Sometimes I find that with focusing on those things, I can even forget about other things that are hard for me in the city because of my sensory issues.  I honestly really like the city  because there is so much automation. There are mechanisms moving everywhere moving and I like seeing and hearing that.  Different cars can be picked out by the way the engines run.  I can know what car will be coming before I see it and then I see it and it is fun to know I picked it out and was right.  For example cabs sound different that trucks and some big cars sound different than smaller cars.  I can sometimes even hear a bike coming.  All of the mechanical noises help to keep me focused and I don’t care about the crowds because of it.

I often fell anxious before presentations and just walking through the city is calming.  I  find that I can get lost in the crowd and no one notices that I move different or act different because there are so many people around and that is sort of nice every so often.  Plus, the mechanical noise is increased so much that I cannot pick out individuals so it is much less likely to take away my attention from trying to listen to what they may say about me and that is relaxing.  In many ways this is like some airports.  So many people doing things in a hurry and running and trying to get somewhere that they do not notice me.

That is one of my concerns.  I know because of my motor plans that I have movements that seem a bit awkward or I may do things that seem a bit odd to others to satisfy a sensory need and because of this, I feel like I am being stared at and try to listen to see if I can hear what others may be saying about me.  For example, in hockey I feel like all eyes are on me.  I don’t like that and it gets me very stressed even though I have fun skating.  I feel like everyone is watching the different ways I move around so I want to move in a way that looks right.  Just skating around and not getting in the middle of things where I may look like I move differently.

So, sometimes it is nice to get lost in a crowd.  It can be relaxing.  However, I think it is also important for others to realize that there are others out there who may move differently or who may do things that seem odd to a neurotypical person.  Understanding and empathy needs to increase and that is one of my goals when writing this blog… to let people know and make them aware of us.

Paperclips and staples and big cardboard boxes…..


…. these are a few of my favorite things.

Well, with the holidays coming up, I could not resist that opening.  One of the kids at my old school used to sing that song all the time with the correct lyrics.  I, personally, am not a big Sound of Music fan, but one of my therapists suggested the title and I liked it ….. whatever….

Actually, I really do like paperclips and staples quite a bit.  I have a hard time passing them by.  If I see them, I want to go over and bend them or remove them from paper, but have been trying to resist those impulses.   However, it isn’t all that bad.  I figure I could be obsessed by much worse things.

Seriously though, I am fascinated by things like staples and paperclips.  I’m sure a lot of neurotypical people think such a thing sounds really weird (then again, I think some of the things that neurotypical people are obsessed with are odd, but I won’t go into that here).

So why the fascination with paperclips and staples?    Well, they are really kind of fascinating – metal that is changeable, bendable, but in many ways immutable.  Somewhat of a paradox I would suppose.  I can bend a paper clip out of shape but it really does not change its form.  I can do with the same with a staple.  In form they are simply a long line of silver medal, but when changed, they can become very useful objects.  I can bend them out of shape and then very carefully bend them back into shape.  I can remove a staple from a piece of paper, bend it, but then bend it back to fit through the same holes it came from so it can assume its original function with only minor imperfections.

Staples and paperclips, made from metal, also reflect light in a way which is so interesting.  I walk by a paperclip or a staple and sometimes, if the light bounces off of it a certain way, I don’t see the paperclip or a staple but a dazzling light – much like the little lights of fireflies or the lights of a Christmas tree.  It is so hard to sometimes pass these by without stopping, looking and touching.  Imagine all of the light reflecting off of these tiny pieces of metal in a large stack of paper on a desk or a bulletin board with stapled notices all over it.  Sometimes, I just can’t help but stop, look and reach out to those little lights.  I want to bend them and change the way the light reflects off of them.  Sometimes I resist that urge, but sometimes the calling is too much and I just have to try to change the way that the light reflects from those tiny bits of metal.

Before you think I am odd for liking the beauty of light reflecting off of things in my environment, think about the things with which some neuro-typical people are obsessed.  Some are obsessed with money, some with clothes, some with drugs and others with accumulating as many toys as they can before they die.  Overall, I am much happier enjoying something simple like reflections of light than any of those other things.

In closing, whatever, holidays you celebrate (or celebrated), I hope that they are happy.